20:54 GMT29 November 2020
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    With its estimated programme cost of $1.5 trillion, the fifth-generation stealth combat jet has faced a spate of costly setbacks over the past few years. In October 2018, the US even temporarily grounded its entire fleet of F-35s following a crash.

    During high-level Pentagon meetings, acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan harshly criticised Lockheed Martin's F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet programme, using an expletive to describe the fighter, an ex-Defence Department official was quoted by Politico as saying.

    According to the former official, Shanahan called the warplane "f***ed up", claiming that Lockheed "doesn't know how to run a programme" and that "if it had gone to Boeing, it would be done much better".

    READ MORE: F-35 Begins Initial Operational Test and Evaluation 16 Months Behind Schedule

    Politico also cited a former Trump administration official as saying that when Shanahan was Deputy Defense Department chief, he had repeatedly "dumped on" the F-35 programme, slamming it as "unsustainable".

    "The cost, the out-years, it's just too expensive, we're not gonna be able to sustain it", Shanahan allegedly pointed out at the time.

    The F-35 is known to be the most expensive aircraft programme in history, with a projected lifetime cycle total cost of $1.5 trillion.

    The last few years have seen the F-35 programme face a whole array of costly setbacks and technical delays.

    READ MORE: US, Israel Suspend F-35 Flight Operations Worldwide — Military

    Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, (rear to front) AF-2, AF-3 and AF-4, flies over Edwards Air Force Base in this December 10, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin
    © REUTERS / Darin Russell/Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
    In late October 2018, the Pentagon's F-35 Lightning II Programme said in a statement that the US was temporarily grounding all F-35 operations worldwide after the first-ever crash of the sophisticated fighter jet led investigators to suspect that a common problem exists with the jet's fuel tubes.

    In September, a Marine F-35B crashed in South Carolina due to technical failure in a jet engine fuel pipe, according to investigators.

    In 2016, the US Air Force ordered the grounding of 15 F-35A jets after the discovery of "peeling and crumbling" coolant tube insulation installed in the wings of the jet.


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    programme, fighter jets, cost, production, F-35, Patrick Shanahan, Donald Trump, US
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